Government reopens borders for tourists but keeps restrictions on entry of asylum seekers

A new decree published in an extra edition of the Federal Gazette lets tourists come to Brazil by air

A new decree published this Wednesday, July 29, in an extra edition of the Federal Gazette, reopens the Brazilian air borders for entry by tourists

The measure, however, keeps the land borders closed, such as roads and waterways, which are the methods used by asylum seekers who arrive here in situations of extreme vulnerability. The new decree maintains the penalty of immediate deportation and the possible “suspension of asylum requests” for people who arrive by land and water, irrespective of whether they are fleeing war or political, ethnic or religious persecution. 

“It’s hard to believe that the concerns are health-related and not an attempt to use the pandemic to dismantle the rights of refugees in the country,” said Camila Asano, program director at Conectas.

The decree is signed by the presidential Chief of Staff, Walter Braga Neto, the Minister of Justice and Public Security, André Mendonça, the Minister of Infrastructure, Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas, and the Interim Minister of Health, Eduardo Pazuello. 


The entry restrictions to the country were put into place in March and they have been renewed each month.

The previous decree, published in late June, permitted the entry, by air, of foreigners with student, work or sports visas, among others. However, the rule did not include people with humanitarian visas – in Brazil this visa is granted to people from Syria and Haiti who are fleeing conflicts in their countries. 

Similarly, exceptional permission to cross the border for migrants residing in Brazil and their relatives does not apply to people coming from Venezuela, which is clearly discriminatory in the judgment of civil society organizations.

“These measures directly impact the human rights of people seeking asylum in the country. If the government’s concern is health-related, international bodies like UNHCR have already recommended that countries take in people who need international protection by applying health measures. Instead of just closing the doors, establishing quarantine and testing could be adopted,” concluded Camila.

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